Breaking Down Chipotle’s Obvious Twitter Stunt

Breaking Down Chipotle’s Obvious Twitter Stunt

If you follow any sort of social media news outlets, you’ve probably heard that Chiptole’s Twitter account was “hacked” today. Around 12 p.m. MDT the Mexican grill’s Twitter account suddenly got slammed with Tweets that looked like your grandparents trying to use Google. But did their account really get hacked? Take a look at the following tweets from this “hacker”:

Chipotle_TwitterSo you’re telling me it took nearly 30 minutes of meaningless tweets going out before someone on the Chipotle staff was notified? With thousands of retweets and replies, Chipotle would have noticed a bogus tweet within minutes. Also, nearly ten hours after the incident, those tweets are still on the Chipotle account.

A spokesman for Chipotle reached out to the media saying the situation is under control, but avoided answering whether the incident was a hack or a publicity stunt.

Was this a hack? No. It was very well crafted Twitter marketing. Here’s how they did it, and how it paid off.

The Set Up

Once you’ve accepted the reality that this was indeed a marketing stunt, you can see the science behind it. They picked the slowest day of the week for tech news: Sunday. While it’s a slow day for news, it’s a great day for site traffic, as millions of Americans are at home with nothing to do. Chipotle new Sunday was the perfect day to get easy coverage, and lots of traffic. It was also done early enough in the day that it allowed time for the media to pick it up.

Look at the tweets. They aren’t spammy and they aren’t controversial, but rather very neutral. The tweets were well crafted. They were very simple, yet confusing enough for fan interpretation.

Interpretation = Lots of  Discussions

Lots of Discussions = Awesome Social Signals

The Payoff

So how did Chipotle do? I would consider this a successful marketing move. Not only did it pick them up some awesome free links and media coverage, but they got well over 3,700 retweets. Not bad for 30 minutes of work. While this isn’t anything people will talk about around the water cooler on Monday, the reward outweighed the minimal effort this took.

What Can We Learn?

Before you huddle with your social media team staging your company’s first Twitter hack, keep in mind Chipotle is a big brand, and they leveraged that. Had this been a small taco shop with 1,800 followers, nobody would care. So if you are a small company/brand, don’t try this, you will fail. If you are a big national brand, don’t try this, it’s already been done.

The key takeaway is to always be thinking out of the box. Often in digital marketing it’s easy to get stuck in the box of “build X amount of links” and “contact X number of blogs”. While these tactics aren’t bad, they shouldn’t be the focus. Do what your competition isn’t doing. Build a brand and be different.

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Brandon Hassler

Brandon Hassler

Lead Enterprise Digital Marketer at 97th Floor
Brandon Hassler is a Lead Enterprise Digital Marketer at 97th Floor and Founder of Provo Buzz. He currently assists brands in elevating their web presence and is always looking for ways to learn more and innovate the industry.
Brandon Hassler

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  • EdgewoodEagles

    Brandon, it’s possible that these faked hack tweets are actually clues to their ongoing 20th anniversary contest. They’ve promoted that they will use social media to provide hints for the daily puzzles. I’m not buying they just did this to drum up some followers on a slow Sunday.

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  • Spook SEO

    on! Thinking out of the box is the only way small to mid size businesses can
    keep up with large companies.

    Sometimes it just isn’t about how much resources you can use. It can
    also be about how ingenious your strategy is.